Tuesday 20th December - Au Revoir, St Lucia; Bonjour Martinique
Tuesday 20th December
Again, it must be said, our blogging motivation was
severely diluted by non-stop party stuff in
First; how did we do in the end on the ARC? You’ll all be able to access the results from the www.worldcruising.com website. The gods decided that the factor to be applied to motoring this year was to be something which we reckon to be around 150%. Since we’d crossed the line one hour and 13 minutes ahead of Cochise but motored for about 58 minutes longer, the answer is that we came third in class to them by a margin of 11 minutes. We also came 10th overall (conceding 9th place to Cochise), out of 138 in the monohull cruising division. We could concern ourselves with working out the overall placings taking into account the multihulls (28 yachts), the invitation cruising division (18 ridiculously big yachts) and the racing division (23 yachts), but there is a pretty good reason why the ARC do not do so. We ain’t comparing apples with apples – more like apples with nuclear submarines. The handicaps are very different in all cases as are the rules relating to motoring as far as the racing division is concerned. On the other hand, it’s kinda interesting to note that Milanto – a racing division Swan 46 Mk II in essence identical in original build (but not equipment, weight etc, etc to Cochise and us) – crossed the finish line 20 hours after we did but ended up with a corrected time of some 6 hours better than either Cochise or ourselves. Different handicap, no motoring la, la, la. In the end, that result makes sense to us.
If you scroll down the results list, you will also spot Jon as the winner
of the prize for the skipper over 60 who made the fastest crossing on
handicap. What it doesn’t say is
that the prize is a massage at a spa resort in
on the passage, it was exciting and quite hard work. It was our choice that it was so. Others, who finished much later, had
caught more fish (we’d stopped doing so once we’d battled to get Percy down once
too often and lost a good hour in doing so – we’d got Cochise to chase) and got
more sleep. Many later arrivals had
either not flown their spinnakers at all or taken them down at night. It’s all a matter of choices. We had a
pretty experienced crew capable of hand steering most of the way across the
You just can’t get the staff! Flying fish grounded
Chris and Tim bore the brunt of the steering and made an excellent job of
doing so. For them in
particular the watch system was demanding – four hours on, four hours off rarely
delivered anything like the promised four hours off. The provisioning worked
extremely well (apart from the tonic of course!) and Penny made an outstanding
contribution to ensuring that excellent food came up from the galley as
required. Despite the pitching and
rolling, there was freshly prepared food for every meal – sweet and sour pork,
chicken curry, boeuf bourguignon, veggie pasta, spag bol, herby chicken and
chile con carne formed the core of the menu. Chorizo and puy lentils, quinoa and
artichokes, couscous with onion and peppers, and homemade hummus made a change
from ham, cheese and salad sandwiches.
The star veg keeper was amazingly a cucumber – the last one was still
firm when we got to
We spent our first day (7th December) in
Tim arranged a great day out for us all which included a visit to the rain forest. It certainly ensured that we hadn’t lost use of our legs whilst at sea. They’ve a bit to do in sorting out the damage that was caused a couple of years ago by a hurricane (about which they were warned but said something like “Hey man, don’t worry about a ting” before deciding, in retrospect, that that was probably poor advice). We also had an excellent lunch at a decidedly ethnic roadside eatery. Different it was – and delicious. And, next time we’ll know that one plate between three will probably do. The Copelands and Dumas flew back on the 14th and we all dined together in the marina on the previous evening – having bunked off a bit early from the main ARC welcome party held in the marina that night. Sorry; later arrivals, excellent though it was, nothing there matched up to the incredible steel band you might have heard if you hadn’t hung around so long in the oggin. Moving swiftly on . . .
Dat win’ jus’ blew away dem trees View west from the rain forest
We’re on a much longer timescale than the rest of our ARC crew so, once
they had decamped to hotels various, we concentrated on putting right the
niggles that had developed on passage and cementing relationships with those
whose plans are most similar to ours.
Bands played in the marina every night which made for a continuous party
atmosphere. Anyway, in the
Chattel Houses on the Boardwalk One more mango and the boat will sink!
One issue that had perplexed us a little before departure was that of gas. There is about as much international agreement and cooperation in the matter of common fittings and so on for gas cylinders as there is for mobile phone chargers. Come the revolution I’m not sure which lot to line up in front of the firing squad first. So, having departed Las Palmas with one full Calor Gas cylinder and one practically empty (because nobody in Gran Canaria could refill the empty one or sell us a new propane one that fitted) we wondered how we’d go about sorting the issue out in St Lucia. Presumably we’d have to buy new cylinders and ditch the old ones. And, naturally, the new ones wouldn’t fit into the gas locker properly (there aren’t many other safe places to put these things on a boat). Because, why would it occur to anyone in the gas industry to reach even that degree of commonality? As I’ve already said; come the revolution . . .And, our Calor Gas cylinders make it quite clear that nobody else is allowed to fill them. So, how to solve the problem? Well, dear reader, if you think about it, the answer is obvious. You load your cylinders, together with 3 weeks’ laundry aboard the “Suds Laundry” (fetching little strapline “You dirty it; we clean it”) golf cart. You get your original clothes back clean and your original cylinders back filled. Job done. God knows what we do elsewhere in the world but I have seen some amazing pictures of people connecting different cylinders together with a bit of flexible hose and hauling the full (local) one up upside-down on a halyard to let the liquid gas drain down into the cylinder that actually fits their boat. Fag in hand, obviously. I wonder what the ‘elf ‘n’ safety guys would say about that.
Suds Laundry – You dirty it – We clean it
We had a little work done on Percy by the local sail mender and a trivial bit of stainless steel work done by the local boat yard. I will do no more here than record that high quality workmanship and pride in the finished product seems to be hard to come by hereabouts.
We had long decided that we would leave
The next morning (Monday 19th) the spinnaker pole man rang to say he was ready to take receipt of this pole which is about 20 feet long and 5” in diameter. I explained that we were not alongside and he said “D’accord; pas de problem”. A few minutes later we met him in the marina, took him and his colleague out the mile or so to Arnamentia in our little Avon Redcrest rubber dinghy, took the pole aboard it and proceeded a mile in a slightly different direction threading our way through boats and up a creek to his workshop with this massive battering ram threatening the life of anyone who crossed our path. It’s how it’s done here.
That afternoon we were granted a berth in the marina and we took it up. Horrible marina berths which require boats to reverse in in-between other boats and avoid a single mooring buoy in the middle of the berth. OK; we made it without incident but backing this boat in a cross wind ain’t quite like backing in a modern boat equipped with bow thrusters. And, to get it directionally stable in reverse, it has to be moving a little more quickly that many an onlooker might deem wise! So, in addition to everything else going on you have to manage the baseless (well, nearly) panicking of people you don’t even know!
Tomorrow we’re off to explore the island by car. Need toget away from the sea a bit and see some hills. Speak anon.